You have welcomed your customer, helped to take their order, and now you have completed their drink. A big part of the Branch Street Experience™ is understanding that every time you hand off the drink you have just prepared, you are essentially “signing” it or giving it your seal of approval. Taking this one step further can make all of the difference in the final experience for the customer, and keep them coming back.
Just as a chef plates, so should a barista build drinks. It is important that all of your baristas make drinks the same way, every time. Your customer will come to expect consistency, and you will need to produce consistently if you want them to keep coming to you as part of their daily routine. You should never hear someone mutter about how one barista makes his or her drink better than another. If this happens, coach the barista, or share the “secret” to making that customers drink. Did they just need an extra half pump of vanilla?
Also like plating, latte art is a way for a barista to put their signature on a drink. Not everyone can draw well, and latte art is not necessary to make a great tasting drink, but it does imply a certain level of prestige. Having art on the top of the latte means that the espresso extraction was done properly, and that the milk was properly steamed. Look closely, and assure that your milk is made of micro-foam without any bubbles. It should have a slight shine, with a velvety texture that sticks slightly to the sides of the steaming pitcher.
Even if your baristas are not the best at latte art, every drink they make should be used to practice. The only way to learn how to manipulate the milk is to consistently practice working with it. You will be surprised at how well they start to do with a little encouragement and some tips from the senior baristas. YouTube is also a great resource for the audio-visual aspect.
We encourage you to take this process a step further. Find a way for your café to literally “sign” the drinks. We have created small “inspector stamps” with our logo, and the barista’s initials on it. Every cup gets stamped prior to making the drink, and when you hand off the cup, there is a literal signature or stamp of approval on each drink. Customers may not notice right away, but it could make a difference in the long run by giving your café a subliminal advantage. Having the barista’s initials on the stamp also create a more personal experience, and encourage accountability.
Find a creative way to sign your drinks. Consider an embossed logo, sticker, or other physical means to make that custom drink…well, custom.